Transformation that works

Interprofessional Education

Categories  |  Medical Education

 |  By Adam Silverman, MD, FACP

Interprofessional education appears to be the conundrum facing health services educators. We have been talking about it for 30 years, everyone knows it’s important, we know it when we see it, but we are stymied when it comes to applying it to a large system and translating it into outcomes that matter to patients.

In February 2014, the CIPCI Advisory Board debated the definition of interprofessional education in an effort to focus CIPCI’s activities in this area. Thoughts on definitions, execution, and measuring outcomes of interprofessional education were as varied as the backgrounds of the participants. An editorialized summary of the discussion follows.

The following questions were raised to provoke discussion:

  • Is it enough to co-locate dental and medical students during the first two years of their professional education?
  • Does co-location have any impact on future practice patterns?
  • Is interprofessional education about working better as a team within the medical home or about working more cohesively and efficiently in the greater medical neighborhood?

Clearly, there is value in embedding trainees into multidisciplinary teams of professionals to enhance their understanding of different roles. This type of exposure is essential to ensuring that participants in the PCMH work to the top of their license. However, can this desired result be primed by educating students of different disciplines together? Furthermore, what is the value of interprofessional education for undergraduate medical students when interprofessionalism is not extended to residency training? Residents are exposed to the hidden curriculum of each medical specialty, which reinforces the siloed mentality inherent in many medical specialties.

But it is interesting, that in order to transform practices at the grassroots level, educating the care team together on the importance of change – and giving them the role-specific tools that are necessary for successful change – seems to be the modality that will most positively affect patient-centered outcomes. This is an example of what CIPCI’s Founding Director, Dr. Gregory Makoul, calls “radical common sense as innovation”.

Medicine is a team sport. As such, the success of the team is linked to the success of a group of interconnected members. We shouldn’t educate individual team members in a vacuum to be the best that they can be, because as far as patients are concerned, caregivers are at their best when they are part of an interconnected team.  CIPCI is devoted to “transformation that works”. It is clear from the input of our Advisory Board that, in terms of interprofessional education, we have an opportunity and an obligation to drive this dialogue as part of our transformative mission.

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